“Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil…. “Ps. 23:4a KJV
|"He leads me beside still waters." Ps 23|
I will never forget first overhearing the words, ‘Hodgkin’s disease,’ from my father, talking to someone on the phone. And I’ll never forget reading the words, ‘cancer’ and ‘sometimes fatal,’ when I looked up the definition of Hodgkin’s in our encyclopedia. Those words were my first steps into the shadows of death that would overtake myself and my family for the next twelve years and beyond.
It has now been twenty-nine years since mom died on a warm, sunny morning. No longer sixteen, I was now twenty-eight and a mother of two. Yet I felt as confused and fearful as I had twelve years ago when I’d first read those devastating words. Mom’s death would be one of the destabilizing forces that would send me not only through the valley of the shadow of death but the valley of depression.
Many people lose their parents much younger than I did. So why it sent me into such a tailspin is likely due to the circumstances that I’d grown up in and how my mother had been for me, a buffer between all things bad, especially my father.
During those hard times and in fact in years previous, he did some things that would affect us as a family up until this very day and eventually even lead to my younger sister's suicide, fourteen years after our mother died. It was after mom's death, perhaps because there was no longer anyone to hold shut the closet door, that the skeletons in our family began to emerge, first with my own returning memories of things that I had witnessed as a child and then with my younger sister telling us of our father’s abuse of her for years. It was devastating. I had so many unanswered questions that I couldn’t ask my mother. My feelings that she had been my buffer and safe place, disintegrated. I wasn’t sure what or who to look to anymore and felt incredibly unmoored and adrift.
“…for thou art with me. Thy rod and they staff they comfort me.” Ps 23:4b KJV
My comfort would come primarily in the form of counseling. I first started in the years after my mother died and again after my sister’s death. There, I was free to be myself and share the inner thoughts that I felt were too much for everyone else. As years of pain came off in layers, Gods comfort started to become something real and not just something that I heard about in a church sermon.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long. Ps. 5-8 RSV
Gloria Guest blogs for Inscribe and her personal blog at www.wordpress.gloriaguest.com from Caron, Sk.